U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, announced late Monday that she secured $643,000 for a new mobile unit for Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP) in the draft Fiscal Year 2022 Health and Human Services Appropriations bill. The bill, which was officially released by the full Appropriations Committee on Monday, must still be voted upon by the full Senate and House.
The ACAP Community Action Services Mobile Unit Congressionally Directed Spending Project was advanced and championed by Maine’s two U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, who both included it with their funding requests for Fiscal Year 2022. If passed, the money would be used to bring critical social services, healthcare, oral health, nutrition, behavioral health, prevention education, and supportive programs directly to the people of the most rural and underserved communities of northern Maine.
“For nearly half a century, ACAP has served as a trusted community resource and helped Aroostook County residents achieve greater economic independence by connecting them with services they need to thrive,” said Senator Collins. “The current public health and economic crisis underscores the need to lift up struggling families and provide a brighter future for children in Maine and throughout the country. This new mobile unit will help ACAP assist even more families, and I will continue to champion this funding as the appropriations process moves forward.”
“Deploying the full array of resources offered by ACAP and community partner organizations, where they are needed most, will help address the inequities pervasive in the most remote parts of the region, which have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said Jason Parent, ACAP CEO. “We are most grateful to Senators Collins and King for supporting this project and helping advance it for funding. We look forward to the day, in the not to distant future, where the ACAP Community Action Mobile Services Unit will be traveling the roads and meeting community members County-wide where they are.”
Under this Community Project, funding would support the acquisition, initial development and infrastructure of a mobile unit that will regularly travel with intake and service delivery professionals on board to service desert communities throughout the region, bringing those resources directly to the people. Included resources will include key offerings like the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), Home-based Head Start, Women, Infant and Children’s (WIC) nutrition services program, oral health, healthcare marketplace navigation assistance, social work/case management and coaching services, substance use prevention and tobacco cessation, youth support initiatives, financial literacy, housing supports and housing counseling, and other services all offered by ACAP. In addition, community partner organizations, including those offering behavioral health and substance use counseling, and healthcare would have access to the mobile unit to establish key patient connections and deliver appropriate services.
As part of the project funding, a newly added staff member would establish and initially staff the mobile services unit start up and year one effort. The Community Outreach Coordinator will set up community visits, enlist and schedule staff representatives from ACAP programs and external partner organizations to provide services, and travel to the sites to conduct initial registration and ensure navigation and enrollment to other available programs not represented on that specific visit to the community.
The designated staff for the mobile services unit will train program specific staff to perform the general functions to ensure the coordination work continues beyond the first year. Sustainability of the staffing of the unit after the initial year will be established through the blending and braiding of various program funds.